Forest Management

Forest is a very important renewable resource in Bangladesh. It provides materials like timber, pulp, pole, fuel wood, food, medicine, habitat for wildlife and primary base for biodiversity. It also provides oxygen, controls or reduces the intensity of the cyclones and tidal surges in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, influences the rainfall, and sustained water yield in the river systems etc. Besides these, forest is also used for hunting, and nature based tourism. Now a days, eco-tourism is the preferred type of tourism and it is widely believed that eco-tourism could be an alternative mechanism for environmentally sustainable development without depleting the forest resources and its habitat and biodiversity. Considering all these, forest and consequently forest management is getting importance with the passage of time.
Past Forest Management
Present Forest Management
Past Forest Management
Scientific forest management in this sub-continent was started during British rule by the appointment of Sir D. Brandis as the Inspector General of Forest in 1865. A separate forest department was created for Bengal in 1876. Chittagong Forest Division was the first division created in Bangladesh by British ruler in 1872 and the Sundarban Forest Division was created in 1879.
In those days, forests were managed primarily for revenue collection under the control of Revenue Department. Only valuable trees were extracted from the forest to get more revenue,.

Keeping in mind the importance of forest, a forest management plan or work plan is prepared for each forest division. This management plan guides forest manager to manage forest or to perform day to day work in the forest. This plan spells out where to cut trees, how much to cut and what to plant to cover up the cleared up forest etc. on annual basis.

Present Forest Management
The present forest management is almost totally different from the past one in respect of its objectives and philosophy. Present forest management objectives are not only to produce timber only but also to provide clean air, clean water, healthy habitat for wildlife and to act as a major source of biodiversity and nature-based tourism. The present philosophy of forest management is to involve people in the management and create an environment so that people can feel that they have also some stakes on trees growing on the forestland and to improve living standard of the people residing in the vicinity of the forests .

Present Management objectives
Present forest management is primarily guided by Forestry Master Plan (FMP) completed in 1993 with the assistance from ADB, UNDP and FAO. The objectives of present forest management are adopted following FMP and these are:

enhancing environment preservation and conservation
introducing rational forest land use
increasing public participation and benefit from the forest
creating forests on marginal and private lands
institutional strengthening
improving management practices
Improving efficient resource utilization.

Recent Improvement in Management Practices:
Inventories of all major forest formations in the country except the forests in Chittagong Hill Tracts were carried out. This has provided the necessary database for using quantitative information for writing more comprehensive management plans for different forests. Small units of uniform crop have been identified and information on these units were recorded with the help of computer based Resources Information Management System (RIMS) unit in FD.

The inventory and associated activities have made long desired information on the status, growth and yield of forests in the country available. It has been possible to develop volume and yield functions for all major plantation species and volume functions for major species in natural forests. This has made possible to regulate yield for long period of time. A new working plan format has been devised to make it possible for the use of the available information in future management plans.

An annual plan of operation is included as part of the management plan. This is basically a detailed plan of operation within the forest division and is prepared by the Divisional Forest Officer.

In recent years there has been a substantial shift in emphasis in Forestry and Forest Mnagement from maximizing yield towards maximizing sustainability through increased participation of local population, conserving biodiversity and maintaining forestry services.

The present management systems are evolved from the past ones through various modifications in order to incorporate present objectives of forest management. Some new forest management systems are also added to address new concept in forest management such as agroforestry, homestead plantation, strip plantation, participatory forestry on encroached forest, mangrove afforestation on newly accreted land in the coastal area, conservation area management to preserve wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Resource Information Management System
Bangladesh Forest Department initiated the Resource Information Management System (RIMS) during 1984-85 under the auspices of IDA funded Second Forestry Project. The main objective of the RIMS was to produce reports and maps relevant to all aspects of the management plan, silvicultural prescriptions and to provide information on present and predicted yields from relevant operations. This was designed as an aid to intensive forest resource management of all Forest Divisions through management plans and also in perspective planning in forestry.

Thus the RIMS is a two way information system. The raw data are supplied to the computer from the field divisions. The processed information are sent back to the field Divisions from the RIMS Unit. After performing operations, the data on new situation are fed to the computer for updating the database.

Along with the technological development RIMS Unit adopted Geographical Information System (GIS), a computer based data management, mapping and analyzing system of spatial information. Forest Department integrated GIS with the existing RIMS under the World Bank financed Forest Resources Management Project (FRMP) in mid 90s. RIMS/GIS unit now is bestowed with modern GIS setup with state of the art and